Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, to Convene at WWU

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, will convene court at William Woods University on Tuesday, Nov. 16, Chief Judge Edwin H. Smith announced.

A three-judge panel consisting of Judge Lisa White Hardwick, Judge Robert Ulrich and Judge Thomas Newton will hear oral arguments in five cases in the Bernard Weitzman Courtroom, located in the Burton Business and Economics Building, beginning at 1:30 p.m., Smith said.

He explained that the cases are appeals from previously held trials in area circuit courts. The judges will hear attorneys argue whether the trials had errors that should cause them to be retried or the trial court’s judgment reversed, he said. The judges will read written arguments before the court session, he added, and may interrupt the attorney’s arguments with questions.

The three judges will recess in between arguments to discuss the court system and generally explain proceedings, Smith said. This will be of particular interest to WWU’s legal studies students in attendance.

This will be the court’s ninth visit to the William Woods campus since the university opened its model courtroom in April of 2000. The courtroom is named for St. Louis attorney Bernard W. Weitzman, a member of the WWU Board of Trustees.

According to Cynthia Kramer, director of legal studies and associate professor of political science, the model courtroom has numerous advantages for students in both academics and co-curricular activities. Providing a place for the court of appeals to convene and allowing students to observe is just one of those benefits.

“A model courtroom is to the study of law, government and politics what a biology lab is to the study of biology. It is a laboratory. It is a facility which enables students to put into practice the theoretical knowledge they have learned in the classroom. It is the tool that allows them to apply theory to real life,” said Kramer.

The court convenes regularly in Kansas City. Its jurisdiction is appeals from trial courts in 45 counties, which include all of northwest Missouri, and most of central Missouri.

Hardwick will preside over the proceedings. She is the newest member of the Western District, having been appointed in 2001. Previously, she practiced law for 14 years and served as a circuit judge in Jackson County for two years.

“It is important for the court to convene oral arguments outside of Kansas City,” Hardwick said. “This gives individuals an opportunity to observe a part of the judicial system they normally do not see. We hope those attending will gain a better understanding of the court’s function.”

The five cases being heard at William Woods are:


Appellant was convicted in 1985 of sodomy. He was paroled from prison in November of 1996. Appellant’s parole was revoked and his final release date from prison was
November 3, 1999. On October 29, 1999, the State filed a petition pursuant to Section 632.480, RSMo 2000 to detain Appellant in a secure confinement as a sexually violent predator. This case was tried to a jury. The jury found Appellant to be a sexually violent predator. The probate court committed Appellant to indefinite custody in the Department of Mental Health to be securely confined for control, care and treatment until his mental abnormality has so changed that he is safe to be at large. This appeal followed.

Appellant raises one issue on appeal. The issue is whether the trial court erred in committing Appellant to indefinite secure confinement in the custody of the Department of Mental Health because this violated Appellant’s due process rights in that the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant is more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility.


Appellant was disabled as a result of a motor vehicle accident in 1979. The accident left him confined to a wheelchair and he is a quadriplegic. Appellant had been the Executive Director of the Independent Living Resource Center since April 1, 1997. The core purpose of the Independent Living Resource Center was to allow people with disabilities to lead more independent lives. Appellant was discharged on August 21, 2003 for allowing a subordinate to discharge an employee. Appellant had been told to clear all discharges with the Board of Directors. Appellant filed an unemployment claim and was disqualified for four weeks of unemployment benefits because he was discharged for misconduct connected with work. He appealed to the Appeals Tribunal and the Hearing Officer disqualified Appellant for six weeks of unemployment benefits. Appellant appealed the decision of the Hearing Officer to the Labor and Industrial Relation Commission. The Commission affirmed the Hearing Officer’s decision. This appeal followed.

There are four issues raised on appeal. The first issue is whether the Hearing Officer erred by allowing testimony from the employer that Appellant was discharged from work due to his failure to cancel attorney interviews because it violated due process in that this reason at no time was provided to Appellant as a reason for his discharge and he was unable to prepare a defense to this surprise testimony. The second issue is whether the Commission erred when it ruled that Appellant could not cross-examine the Employer’s President Jacobs in regard to the true reason for his discharge because cross-examination as to motive is proper in that Appellant wanted to show that the stated reasons for his discharge were a pretext for the real reason to terminate Appellant due to his visible disabilities. The third issue is whether the Hearing Officer erred by allowing the Employer’s President Jacobs to testify because she refused to submit to a deposition after being told by the Division of Employment Security that depositions were not allowed in that depositions should have been authorized in this
case because the Division of Employment Security has authority to do so in order to serve the public
policy of the State to provide for the payment of unemployment compensation. The fourth issue is

whether the Hearing Officer erred when she concluded that Appellant engaged in misconduct at work because there was no substantial and competent evidence to support such a conclusion.

The Division of Employment Security argues that the appeal should be dismissed because Appellant has now received all the benefits he could possibly be entitled to and, therefore, he is no longer an aggrieved party.


Appellant was charged with one count of Driving While Intoxicated and one count of Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle. A jury trial was waived. The trial court found Appellant guilty of both counts. The trial court sentenced Appellant to 30 days in jail on Count I and concurrent two days jail on Count II with both sentences suspended on the condition of satisfactory completion of two years unsupervised probation. This appeal followed.

There are three issues raised on appeal. The first issue is whether the trial court erred in overruling Appellant’s motion to suppress evidence because there was no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity justifying the initial stop. The second issue is whether the trial court erred by finding Appellant guilty of failing to yield to an emergency vehicle in violation of Section 304.022.1 RSMo 2000 because there was insufficient evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in that Appellant did, in fact, stop his vehicle upon the immediate approach of the Highway Patrol vehicle behind him.